Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was founded on the simple belief that sorority elitism and socializing should not overshadow the real mission for progressive organizations - to address societal mores, ills, prejudices, poverty, and health concerns of the day. Founded on January 16, 1920, Zeta began as an idea conceived by five coeds at Howard University in Washington D.C.: Arizona Cleaver, Myrtle Tyler, Viola Tyler, Fannie Pettie and Pearl Neal. These women dared to depart from the traditional coalitions for African-American women and sought to establish a new organization based on the ideology of Scholarship, Service, Sisterly love, and Finer Womanhood. It was the ideal of the Founders that the Sorority would reach college women in all parts of the country who were sorority minded and desired to follow the founding principles of the organization.
Since its inception, the sorority has expanded to encompass more than 800 chapters located throughout the United States, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Europe. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., and is the first and only sorority to be constitutionally bound to a brother fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. has chronicled a number of "firsts" among the established black Greek-lettered organizations. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was the first to charter a chapter in Africa (1948); to form adult and youth auxiliary groups, (the Amicae, Archonettes, Amicettes and Pearlettes); and to organize its internal affairs within a centralized, national office administered by a paid staff. Most recently, Zeta become the first Greek-lettered organization to become an official non-governmental organization of the United Nations.
In addition, Zeta was successful in getting the United States Postal Service to produce a stamp commemorating the lifeworks of Zora Neale Hurston, a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. The 19th commemorative in the U.S. Postal service's Literary Arts series, the stamp brings attention to her career as an influential writer, folklorist, accomplished anthropologist, and cultural interpreter.